Expanding a sacred space between heaven and earth for Lakota Catholics
Mahpiya na Maka Okogna.
This means the sacred space between heaven and earth in the Lakota language. This is familiar ground for Dr. Carole Brown. She is the Director of the Sioux Spiritual Center (SSC), a small Catholic retreat center in her home Diocese of Rapid City.
The center exists to support and evangelize Lakota and other indigenous peoples by providing a sacred place of prayer that is rooted in the Lakota culture and the Catholic faith. The sacred space between heaven and earth.
Native Americans comprise an estimated 27% of all Catholics in the Diocese of Rapid City. In an effort to include and support native ministry across the diocese, Dr. Brown developed and promoted programs relevant to the spiritual needs of native people. These programs affirm that the native people can be both fully Lakota and fully Catholic, not having to choose between their Lakota culture and religious beliefs.
Dr. Brown manages all of the day-to-day operations of the SSC including snow removal. She protects the SSC’s primary mission to serve the needs of Native American Catholics, while also serving as “visionary in chief” — imagining and expanding opportunities to serve the broader Catholic community through Ignatian Retreats, and identifying new possibilities, such as the self-contained hermitage that will be constructed this summer.
To serve the larger Catholic community, she works to provide programs such as the Covenant School of Spiritual Direction and other-directed retreats to help individuals find God’s calling for their lives. A number of young men and women have discerned their vocation to the priesthood and consecrated life while on one of the directed retreats offered at the SSC.
The entire mission of the Church depends on people laying their hearts and their choices before God and praying for the grace to know and do his will. The SSC exists to support people to go to the inner places of their hearts, where they can make an “individual act of spiritual decision.’
She is working to develop a new program focused on evangelization in native settings, for missionaries, clergy, catechists, parents, and grandparents to develop new strategies for the transmission of the faith to the next generation of native Catholics. Based on sound principles of evangelization, missiology, and culture, the work of the Institute will help develop practical strategies to support the faith of native Catholics for generations to come.
Dr. Brown says, “The Sioux Spiritual Center is a little hidden gem where people can get the “space” from the modern world to quiet themselves and listen for the voice of God. I love accompanying people on their journey. There is nothing else I’d rather do, and no other place I’d rather be.
Dr. Brown is right where God needs her to be, in the sacred space between heaven and earth.
Mahpiya na Maka Okogna.